Picture this. You’ve been growing your hair out for over 2 years. You stay up to date with hair care trends, you have a regimen and you’re the queen of protective styling. Yet when you perform a length check at the end of the year, you notice that your hair has only grown 1-2 inches, or even worse, none at all! If you’ve been in this situation, you know that this can be frustrating and super discouraging. But I’m going to share with you some of the main reasons why you may not be seeing hair growth and hopefully this will help you turn things around!
**Before I dive in, it’s important to remember that our hair strands are always growing. You don’t necessarily need hair growth pills, extreme scalp stimulation, or fancy products to make your hair grow faster – it will grow on its own, I promise you. More importantly, it is what you do – or don’t do – to your hair that will allow you to retain the length and actually see the growth.
- You are over manipulating your hair
You are touching your hair way too often! It is very easy to over manipulate your hair and this may be causing severe breakage for you. Some of the major areas of over manipulation can include – combing your hair with a fine tooth comb, combing too often, applying heat, switching hair styles every week, and being too rough with your hair when detangling (keep a lookout for a separate post on proper detangling). A new perspective that has helped me when I’m styling my hair is to think of it like this, every interaction with your hair is an opportunity for breakage. Even if you feel that you are minimally touching your hair or combing it with a wide tooth comb, those manipulations will add up over time. Eventually your hair strands won’t be able to handle the manipulation and they will break off. It is best to tuck away your hair and leave her alone!
2. Exposing your ends
Now I personally struggle with this one, because I love a good twist out or braid out. Unfortunately, these styles will leave your ends out and exposed to the elements, proving more opportunities for breakage . From personal experience, I know that I can’t do too many hair styles with my ends exposed, or else they will become very dry and more likely to break off. Also, wearing a twist out throughout the week, requires lots of manipulation. Whether you are re-twisting every night or putting your hair up into a puff, it often requires daily manipulation, which is never good. So as a compromise, I leave my twist outs and braids outs for special occasions such as Christmas or a graduation photo.
3. Incorrect protective styling
Trust me when I say that I am the queen of box braids (as you can see, box braid bobs are a vibe). I even have box braids in right now! Many of us believe that box braids and other protective styles are the key to hair growth. While this holds some truth, protective styles can do more damage than good if you are protective styling incorrectly. If you are unfamiliar, a protective style is any style that has your ends tucked away for many weeks at at time. This can include box braids, wigs, up dos, mini twists and more. Where many people go wrong is improperly taking down their protective styles. I’ll say it again for the people in the back – you are incorrectly taking down your protective styles! If you wore box braids for 3 months straight, you cannot simply dive in and start unbraiding your hair. Please do not do this! It is imperative to apply moisture to your hair before taking it down. Applying water, a good leave in conditioner, or oil to your braids before taking them down will do wonders, and this applies to any protective style. You will experience less breakage if your hair is moisturized and has some slip to it while you are taking it down. Also, protective styling isn’t a free pass to stop caring for your hair. You still need to wash your hair, deep condition, and moisturize regularly. Otherwise no matter how careful you are during the take down, your hair may be damaged from months of neglect.
4. Lack of moisture
Moisturizing your hair is non-negotiable if you would like long healthy hair. If your curls are anything like mine, you may feel like your hair is constantly dry. However, once you find the right products for your hair, you will find that it is not so hard to manage. Moisturizing your hair should always start begin with water. Water is in fact the moisture, and everything that you apply afterwards will help to keep that moisture locked into your strands. When I moisturize my hair I like to start by spraying my hair with water to hydrate my strands. Next, I will apply a simple leave in conditioner to help soften my strands and add even more moisture. Then to seal it all in, I like to use thick Shea butter or castor oil. I do my best to repeat these steps every 2-3 days. This is what works best for my hair, but you may find that your hair likes olive oil or jojoba oil as a sealant for example. It takes some time to figure out which products work best for your hair, but once you find your staples you will be good to go!
5. Consistency is key
If you take nothing else from this post, please remember that consistency is key. Once you have your set products, and a realistic hair regimen that you can follow, you must stick to it! You won’t achieve your goals if you are not consistent with your hair care regimen. With anything in life, it takes dedication and consistency to see results. Growing long healthy hair isn’t something that will be achieved over night, so stick with your regimen and over time you will see a difference. You can also try to set reminders to moisturize your hair at night or add your wash days to your schedule for the month, to ensure that you have time set aside to do your hair.
6. Sleeping without a satin scarf
I never used to believe that sleeping with a satin scarf would make a difference, but now when I don’t sleep with my satin scarf I immediately regret it. My strands will feel and look much drier compared to when I use my satin scarf. Sleeping with a satin scarf or bonnet will eliminate the friction between your hair and your cotton pillow case. This will allow your hair to hold onto it’s moisture and limit the opportunity for breakage! To take it one step further, you can also sleep on a satin pillow case. This way if your scarf or bonnet falls off in the middle of the night, your hair will still be protected. Also if you’re not leaving your house, I recommend wearing your bonnet or scarf around the house too, it will only keep your strands even more protected.
7. Skipping trims
I am firm believer in trimming your hair. There is no need to hang on to damaged ends, trust me, it will only do more harm in the long run. I know that it can be daunting to cut your hair when you are on a growth journey, but healthy hair > long hair any day. I personally aim to trim my hair about 3 times a year and I trim about 1/2 inch at a time. However, your trimming routine may look different depending your needs. Generally, if you are taking great care of your hair, then you shouldn’t need to trim your hair very often, but you need to find a balance. If you trim your hair too often, then you won’t see much hair growth. On the other hand, if you are not trimming your hair often enough, your hair will be damaged and you will be dealing with breakage and thin stringy ends. I would say that anywhere between 2-3 times a year is a good place to start, only trim what’s necessary, but be sure that you letting those damaged ends GO!
8. You are not tracking your hair growth journey
If you don’t take photos, record your hair measurements or create videos, how are you going to know if your hair is growing? You cannot gauge hair growth by simply looking at it and imaging what it looked like 2 years prior. I guarantee you, it will almost always look like your hair isn’t growing. When I began to look back at photos from 2015, I discovered that my hair growth was *astronomical*. I can clearly see that the volume of my hair is so much greater now. This is why photos and documenting your hair measurements is so important. For our hair texture you won’t see the growth like someone with straight hair would see their growth. Our hair will grow outwards and increase in volume, more so than it will grow in a downwards motion. A whole year can go by and your afro may look like it’s hitting the same spot, but if you stretch your hair out to see the length, or compare the volume of your hair, you may actually see a noticeable difference!
9. You are what you eat
I love my food, including all of the unhealthy foods! However, we all know that a healthy balanced diet will promote healthier hair, skin and nails too. A balanced diet that is comprised with essential nutrients and vitamins, will provide your body with the necessary building blocks to build healthy hair strands. If your diet only consists of junk food, desserts and sugary drinks, you will be deficient in these essential nutrients. As a result, those important building blocks will be missing, and your body won’t have the resources to build healthy hair. With that being said, don’t feel like you have to go on a strict diet, or that you need to give up cake (believe me, I could never). You just want to be conscious of the foods that you eat on a daily basis, and be sure that your body is receiving all of the essential nutrients. If you are unsure about your diet, reach out to your family doctor or a nutritionist for more guidance. Also do not forget to drink water! If your body is dying for water on the inside, how do you think your body is going to look on the outside? You can apply leave in conditioner on your strands every week, but if your body is lacking the moisture from within, you will constantly be battling with dryness.
10. Unrealistic goals & comparing yourself to others
My last reason speaks to a greater issue that we all face in this society. With social media and YouTube it’s easy to compare yourself to others and wonder why your hair growth isn’t like hers, or why your curls don’t pop like his. If you are struggling with this, trust me I’ve been there. You must realize the importance of setting realistic goals for yourself. On average the hair grows 1/2 inch a month. However, my hair may grow slower and yours may grow twice as fast. Remember, genetics play a huge role in how fast your hair grows and also the strength of your hair strands . One person may have thick hair strands and they can withstand lots of manipulation. But perhaps your strands are very fine and are prone to breakage. Another person may have looser curls and their hair may always appear longer. Or maybe you’ve been blessed with 4c curls and you don’t see your length as easily due to shrinkage. You have to reflect on your hair type and set realistic expectations and goals for yourself. For example, I have a 4b-4c hair texture that is extremely dry and prone to breakage. It would be unrealistic for me to say, I want to have waist length hair, that flows down my back when I do a twist out in 12 months. One, my hair is not designed to flow down my back and two, my hair does not grow that fast! So please reflect on your hair and set goals that are realistic for you. If you do enjoy watching other people’s videos or following someone’s blog, look for people who have a similar hair texture as yours. It can be beneficial to learn from someone who has similar curls and experiences the same struggles as you.
I hope you were able to learn something from my post, or perhaps it was a quick refresher on how to grow your natural hair. This was lots of fun to write and I’m excited to share more posts with you all. Look out for future posts on box braids, my hair regimen, detangling and more!